Demetrious Johnson was one of the most dominant flyweight champions in the UFC. Having racked up 11 consecutive defenses of his title, he was on his way to being the flyweight GOAT. However, in one of the most shocking trade deals to date, Demetrious parted ways with the UFC.
Although it has been a hotly debated topic, things seemingly worked out for Demetrious. Despite being one of the best champions in the UFC to date, Johnson was the lowest-paid champion. Whilst many can argue about the level of opposition and the newly-created division, Johnson’s feat remains a remarkable one.
Speaking to Joe Rogan on the JRE MMA Show #131, Johnson revealed that the UFC actually wanted to keep him. “So ONE Championship and the UFC were talking back and forth between Hunter (Campbell) and Matt Hume.” According to Johnson, ONE proposed, “Hey, let’s do a trade. We’ll give you Ben Askren for Demetrious Johnson. And then at one point, I heard Dana was like nah, I don’t wanna make that happen.”
According to Johnson, he also believes that Joe Rogan had a role in wanting to bring Ben Askren to the UFC as well. However, he also states that a lot of what he is saying is based on rumors. As such, Joe Rogan also clarified the same, stating that he wanted the UFC to sign Askren back when he was at Bellator and not ONE.
Will Demetrious Johnson ever return to the UFC?
Although we have seen fighters return to the UFC in the past, the same likely cannot be said for Mighty Mouse. Despite being a respectful person and a company man, Demetrious finally spoke out and revealed all. As per Johnson, the UFC bullied him into taking significantly lower pay and not promoting him as much as some of their other stars.
One of the most heartbreaking things for DJ was having to ask the UFC for higher pay on his seventh and eighth title defenses whilst CM Punk was allegedly making $500k for just his second UFC fight. In his last fight in the UFC, Demetrious earned his biggest paycheck, making $470,000 when he lost to Henry Cejudo at UFC 227. Thus, the decision to jump ship to ONE FC was the sensible one.
According to sources, Demetrious earned a base salary of $750,000 in each of his first three fights under the ONE banner. Additionally, Johnson also raked in an estimated $40,000 in sponsorships for each fight as well. Following that, he also beat Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon in a mixed-rules fight. Most recently, DJ avenged his loss to Adriano Moraes and reclaimed his title as ONE featherweight champion.
Now 36, it appears as though Demetrious will see out the rest of his fighting days at ONE. Although, if the UFC were to pay him the big bucks, there would be some amazing fights for DJ in the UFC. Fighters like Brandon Moreno, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Alexandre Pantoja would all have been great fights. Unfortunately, fans will likely never find out how they would have played out.